ALT/work – helping young adults find their way into the REgenerative Economy

Wow! It’s already the end of November! Time has flown by in this weird COVID-induced world in which we find ourselves. Just another thing challenging young adults as they seek to developed their livelihoods and careers, venture out into the world and build a life for themselves.  For the last ten years, it seems ‘the future’ has been demolished and dismantled by financial crisis, austerity and brexit. If you’re under 30, it’s been one bloody WTF? after the next.

ALT/work is an attempt to spark solutions with and for this ignored and disrespected generation. There’s hope in all this calamity that we can #buildbackbetter. Many of us in our networks across the South West and beyond are investing ourselves in this ambitious work to transform our economies to become inclusive and just, ecologically wise, socially thriving, resilient and diverse. If so, then let’s put our young people at the front, in leadership position, throwing the doors to a new, meaningful, regenerative economy wide open!

ALT/work began in September with a series of six online events with speakers drawn from the region, many of them generational peers, each with a powerful story of social enterprise and entrepreneurship. Many of the speakers were from enterprises that are members of the social enterprise networks in Devon and Somerset, and several are potential members. Each session included discussion time and network building. Each included music, even live music.  All participants were encouraged to join a separate discussion forum enabling further communication and network building. Several social enterprises agreed to post volunteer and internship opportunities.

These sessions proved to appeal and inspire participants. Gross total participation for the sessions was about 150, of which about half were from our target audience – age 28-16, Devon or Somerset.  Feedback from participants was positive. Although the number of participants was less than our target, the quality of engagement and reported positive impacts was very high.

The efforts to attract the participation of our target group began with a design exercise with a small group of art students, ‘The Collective’. Their ideas were tranformed into an edgy aesthetic communicating the benefits of participation, of meaningful livelihoods and issues that matter. ‘The Collective’ produced a music playlist and contributed original photography to use in our website and Instagram page, which went from zero followers to 178 in just a few weeks.  We also built a website,, which would convey the description of the programme, speaker profiles, schedule, and registration.

Overall, the programme successfully inspired and motivated many young people in to consider regenerative enterprise as a possible career route. We engaged social enterprise networks and enterprises, as well, many of which remain motivated to develop the project further. And we feel certain the groundwork is laid for further engagement of young people in this region on the opportunities for them in social enterprise and entrepreneurship.

A few testamonials:

“thanks for these talks, so inspiring. as a potential young entrepreneur, and constantly being told hw valuable experience is”

“this session has really given me hope for my career”

“It’s been great meeting new inspiring people, not just the speakers but the other participants too!”

So, what’s next? We’re working on it and we invite you to co-create the next steps together. A national network? More speaker events? Entrepreneurial training? It’s all possible. If you’re interested in getting involved, send us an email.


Our funder:

The Heart of the South West Enhance Social Enterprise Programme is receiving up to £1,053,610 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for ERDF. Established by the European Union, ERDF funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.

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